PARIS , -- France's interior minister announced Wednesday that four suspect traffickers were detained on suspicion of being connected to a deadly migrant boat accident in the English Channel, which killed at least 31 people.
Two of the suspects were present in court Wednesday. All four are suspected to be linked to the sunken vessel, Gerald Darmanin, the Interior Minister, told reporters in Calais, France.
After the sinking, which was the most fatal in channel history, the regional prosecutor began an investigation into aggravated murder.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Below is the original story by AP.
According to France's interior minister, at least 31 migrants headed for Britain were killed Wednesday by their boat sinking in the English Channel. This was the "biggest tragedy" in migration that has occurred on this dangerous crossing.
Gerald Darmanin, Interior Minister, said that 34 people were suspected to have been aboard the boat. Authorities discovered 31 bodies and two survivors. One person was still missing.
Wednesday night saw a joint French-British operation for the search for survivors.
Although the incident was the most fatal in channel history, Darmanin pointed out other tragic incidents and lashed at "criminal traffickers", who drove thousands of people to cross the border.
The nationalities of the travellers were not revealed.
The British prime minister called a meeting of its government's crisis committee. France's interior minister raced to visit the Calais victims in an emergency room. Both governments have been at odds for years over how to stop the increasing danger of migrant crossings. Each side blames the other.
Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, stated that he was shocked, appalled, and deeply saddened.
A French naval vessel spotted bodies in the water at 2 p.m., and pulled out an unknown number of injured and dead, according to a spokesperson for maritime authorities.
Jean-Marc Puissesseau is the head of the ports in Calais and Boulogne. He told The Associated Press that he had spoken to one of those rescuers who brought some bodies to Calais.
He said, "Traffickers were assassins." "We waited for something like that to happen."
Although there are occasional deaths on the crossing, it is not common for so many people to lose their lives in one boat.
The nationalities of the victims were not immediately available. Many people fleeing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea were among those who gathered in northern France to seek asylum in Britain.
Darmanin tweeted, "Strong emotion following the drama of many dead in the sinking boat of migrants in channel." Darmanin slammed the migrant smuggling network that arranges such journeys.
According to the Dunkirk prosecutor, an investigation was opened for aggravated murder in the wake the tragedy.
Despite the increased risk of falling weather, the number of migrants crossing the channel by small boats has increased sharply. On Wednesday, a number of migrants are believed to have reached Britain by small boats.
This year, more than 25700 people made the dangerous journey on small boats. That's three times as many as the total for 2020.
The crossing can be dangerous for inflatables and small boats that children, men and women squeeze into due to changing weather conditions and heavy maritime traffic.
In a series of rescue operations, thousands of migrants have been rescued by British and French authorities from both British and French coasts.
"How many times will we see people die trying to reach safety in Britain because of the woful lack of safe means?" stated Tom Davies, Amnesty International U.K's refugee rights campaign manager.
He said, "We urgently need a new approach for asylum, including genuine AngloFrench efforts in devising safe asylum routes to prevent such tragedies from happening again."
Johnson stated that more must be done to "break down the business model of gangsters who send people to sea in such a way."